Where does the Post get this stuff?
In its latest unattributed foray into the complicated financial picture of the New Jersey Devils, the paper reports the National Hockey League commissioner, Gary Bettman, is planning to oust managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek and take over the team to help it get its finances in order.
Two problems with that. First, Bettman clearly does not like the Devils. See exhibit A, below:
Second, the only bigger example of league-inspired interference is going on in the desert, where in its infinite wisdom, the NHL put a hockey team in 1996. As you can imagine, it's doing about as well as Goldman Sachs' reputation; the league has acted as the owner since 2009, nearly a quarter of the experiment's team's existence. The league now has a tentative agreement with a prospective owner, but a referendum on the lease agreement between the city of Glendale and the arena could present the latest obstacle, especially since the only water in the Arizona desert is the kind homeowners have found themselves underneath as the recovery inches forward, and a favorable deal for the hockey team's prospective owner probably isn't high on their list of priorities.
I really can't see the league sticking its nose in another team's business after the Phoenix mess. Sure, the commissioner is arrogant — he moves the team from Winnipeg to Phoenix, blocks attempts to relocate the team back to Canada, then watches the instant success enjoyed by the Atlanta Thrashers after leaving Georgia for Winnipeg — but he's not stupid enough to threaten league involvement, especially when it seems Vanderbeek is close to a tangible deal.
The other issue that's been raised is the possibility of relocating the Devils, possibly to another hockey-starved market the NHL abandoned in the mid-'90s. That seems even less likely, whomever Vanderbeek's mystery partner is. The team and city just spent hundreds of millions building one of the most modern buildings in use around the league. No one is going to let the Prudential Center go dark, as it would erase all kinds of economic progress around the arena and give its millions of visitors no reason to venture in (yes, Cory Booker, it's true, the arena is a pivotal piece of downtown!).
Are the Devils in financial trouble? Absolutely. Does that mean the NHL is hitting the panic button? Not quite like the Post is, apparently.
I'm even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.